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Trans- Himalayan Caravans: Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders in Ladakh

Janet Rizvi (Author)
Synopsis In common with other regions of the Himalaya and trans-Himalaya, the pre-independence economy of Ladakh was based largely on the trade in food-grains grown in the valleys, and wool and salt from the high altitude plateaux of Tibet. Ladakh was also the conduit by which the luxury fibre pashm (or 'cashmere') passed from Tibet's high-altitude plateaux down to Srinagar, to be worked into Kashmir's famous shawls. In addition, it was the halfway stage on the route for the long-distance trade in textiles, carpets, dyestuffs and narcotics between the Punjab and eastern central Asia (Sinkiang), a two-months' journey for the caravans, crossing a total of eleven passes, and rising at the Karakoram pass to an altitude of 5578 metres. Leh was also the entrepot for trade between central Asia and Lhasa. Although the trans-Himalayan traffic in subsistence commodities in Nepal has been researched, notably by Christoph von Furer-Haimendorf, that in Ladakh has till now remained almost entirely undocumented. Oral evidence is related to documentary sources ranging from Bernier's Travels in the seventeenth century to A.W. Radhu's 1981 account of the trade between Leh and Lhasa. This book documents an extraordinarily complex pattern of trade which was otherwise in danger of vanishing without record.
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About the author

Janet Rizvi

Janet Rizvi, freelance writer and researcher, was brought up in Scotland and graduated with a Ph.D. in history from Cambridge. Married to an Indian Government officer, she spent many years in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Her book Ladakh, Crossroads of High Asia (Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2nd edn. 1996) has been continuously in print for 25 years. She is also author of the highly praised Trans-Himalayan Caravans: Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders in Ladakh (Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1999). As well as writing the chapter "Woven Textiles" in The Crafts of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh (ed. Jaya Jaitly, Mapin, Ahmedabad, 1989), She has contributed articles on the Kashmir shawl to several authoritative reference works: The Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 2004), The Encyclopedia of India (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 2006), and The Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion (forthcoming from Berg Publishers, Oxford). She wrote the chapter "The Asian Trade in Kashmir Shawl" in Textiles from India, The Global Trade (ed. Rosemary Crill, Seagull, Kolkata, 2005).

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Bibliographic information

Title Trans- Himalayan Caravans: Merchant Princes and Peasant Traders in Ladakh
Author Janet Rizvi
Format Hardcover
Date published: 01.01.1999
Edition 1st Ed.
Language: English
isbn 0195648552
length 384p., 4 Col. Plates; 4 Maps; 35 Photographs; Size 215x140mm.
Subjects History